20 Wonderful Things

What is the “20 Wonderful Things” Program?

This refers to the engaging and interactive program that I offer for seniors. I bring in a vintage apple basket and an old suitcase filled with lots of colorful items and we have a wonderful discussion. When I take an item out of the basket, I hear lots of “ooh’s and ahh’s.” Each item reminds the residents of a story, or a a good time in their life. We all share what comes to mind when something is held up to view.

The program is cognitive, tactile, and inspirational. Lots of discussion and laughter! I ask thought provoking and open-ended questions:

  • Who do you love the most?
  • Who loved you the most?
  • Were you ever a Scout?
  • What is your favorite pie?
  • Who was your first real love?

These simple questions slip into the minds of the participants and lots of memories come forth.

The conversation changes from the usual talk about what time is dinner or what staff is on tonight. An interesting discussion always ensues. Then I hold up a variety of props, the 20 Wonderful Things. Listed below are some of the questions and a variety of answers:

  1. Cooking Pot: What is your favorite thing to cook? Tender roast turkey with mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, fresh-made popcorn, macaroni and cheese, fish tacos, beef stroganoff, sweet potato pie, collard greens (Talking about all of those good meals lures them back to another time, back to a dining room with heavenly smells, dinner with their grandparents and family. We almost smell the food cooking.)
  2. Ice-cream bowl: Tell me about your favorite ice-cream parlor. What do you like to put on your banana split? Chocolate chips, peanuts, chocolate syrup. Remember Magic Shell? Hot fudge. Whipped cream. Blueberries and strawberries. Chips of dark chocolate. Anything gooey or crunchy. Wheat germ. Caramel sauce and almonds.
  3. Tell me about your favorite playground and what you liked to do? The one with the wooden tractor. The one with the Merry-Go- Round. I liked amusement parks like Woodside Park and Willow Grove Park. I still like the swings and trying to swing your feet to the sky. Flying a kite. Playing King of the Hill. Hanging upside down on the monkey bars. Using chalk to make pictures on the sidewalk. Blowing bubbles.
  4. A cookbook titled Things to Make in Your New Blender. (copyright 1957) What do you like to make in a blender? Eggnog. Milkshakes. Icing for cakes. Margaritas. I used to mix the ingredients for fragrant soaps in my blender. Banana smoothees. Salad dressing. Blind Date Pudding.

We talk about chores, good meals around the table, the flaky crust on a pie they used to make, the hard work they used to do, and the old company they used to keep. One lady said, ” I really like this because you are really talking to us.”

Every resident gets a gift, every time! They can select from our large sack of stuffed animals – a reminder that they are loved! (And then, we ask why they selected the particular animal. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!)

Excellent references available. We will gladly provide you with the names of other care facilities where we have offered our program.

To learn more, please contact me or go to the full site http://20wonderfulthings.wordpress.com, which includes some of the story ideas we’ve covered with participants and feedback from the seniors.